More questions than answers from council


Editor’s note: This letter is addressed to municipal council.

Sir: Please explain the following from the June 22 meeting:

  • It was argued that amortization of the loan taken to finance the Bradley Centre is not an operating cost. Whaaat?

The history of convention centres is that once they are fully amortized they require major refurbishment amounting to rebuilding, or are simply demolished. How much did we get for the Kinsmen Auditorium?

By the end of the amortization period the building housing the Bradley Centre will be the approximate age the Kinsmen Auditorium was and can be expected to have that same negative market value. That being the case, the $640,000 annual amortization is truly an operating cost to be fully charged to the center and the true total annual cost exceeds $1 million.

• Three floors of the Holiday Inn Express aren’t habitable, so we can’t accommodate large conventions. Whaaat? Was that the deal when the Centre was planned? Can it be corrected? Do we provide shuttles to the inns at Bloomfield and Richmond, and to the Retro-Suites?

• There aren’t enough good places to eat in Chatham to handle large conventions. Whaaat? There’s a row of decent places to eat, including one of the highest rated restaurants in Southwestern Ontario, right across Keil Drive from the Centre. Trouble is there’s five lanes of traffic to cross and no crosswalks or pedestrian islands.

For other dining farther away, how about a shuttle? Do we provide guests with lists and maps to the Thai, Indian, Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, steak house and fine Canadian dining options available?

If in fact there is a shortage of accommodation and dining options, does that mean that Chatham is too small for a convention centre like the Bradley and we should convert parts of it to other uses?

• A 2% annual inflationary tax increase is all that can be afforded for the next three years. Whaaat? If that’s the rate of inflation, workers will generally be getting that much income increase. Even those depending on CPP and OAS will get inflationary increases. So the inflationary tax increase is no increase at all in terms of percentage of taxpayers’ total income; and the tax report clearly shows that it isn’t enough to maintain municipal services to citizens.

• A format for strategic planning for 2016 might be available in July, but if not in August. Whaaat?
Council is into almost weekly non-strategy meetings starting in mid-September. A decent strategy planning program will require several long, tough council meetings, followed by a lot of staff work to convert the outcomes to business plans and convert the business plans to budgets. Ideally that should be preceded by surveys and focus groups with stakeholders (front-line staff and citizens).

If done seriously, the result will be major changes in municipal action priorities and related budgets. That all can’t be done in a few days at the end of August, and citizens deserve that the process; it should not be short-changed.

John Sigurjonsson



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